Meet the ‘match-winning diamond in the rough’ that AFL teams can no longer ignore



His Aspley Hornets team finished last and surrendered their VFL license, but Matt Hammelmann still claimed the Frosty Miller medal for leading the VFL goal kicks, the only time this has happened in 154 years of the league.

With 42 goals in just ten games, the great Queenslander won another goal-kicking medal, having won the QAFL award with the flag-winning Morningside in 2020 and back-to-back Ray Hughson trophies for Red Bombers in the NEAFL in 2018 – 2019.

So why wasn’t he picked up by an AFL club?

Well he was, in 2014 his childhood dreams came true when he was called up by his beloved Brisbane Lions after graduating from their academy. He scored 67 goals in 43 appearances for the Lions reserves and 12 appearances for the Lions AFL side on just two goals.

Despite standing at 197 inches and having a solid frame built to play from the goal square, the Morningside prodigy made it through the academy and up and coming players with Eric Hipwood, preferred by new coach Chris Fagan, and Hammelmann was removed from the list.

Despite the NEAFL being a quality league populated by listed AFL players, ex-AFL players and potential future AFL players, despite the advent of the additional roster period and the mid-season rookie draw, it was no longer seen as a recruitment center for adult players.

Hammelmann’s dominant season may have finally caught the eye of Victorian teams who have been regularly scoring heavy all season, but it’s his favorite team from his youth that has a gap in their forward lineup that would suit the local super boot like the Glass Cinderella slipper .

Somewhat ironically, it’s the ACL injury of his former teammate and rival Hipwood that would give Hammelmann this chance, with Oscar McInerney playing in the ruck and Daniel McStay the only fit tall forward Joe Daniher can team up.

The Lions have several greenhorn ruck/forwards, but none have much experience and Fagan likes to play an oversized player to carve out and assist with defense, so an experienced backup second long striker is a definite need.

Currently, the Lions are linked with every major striker and ruck in the trading market, but with their tight salary cap and loaded contract for Daniher, the club has to find a bargain and it could be right in their backyard.

The truncated VFL and NAB League season produced some interesting perennial draft-eligible players, although a dozen of them have already been drafted into the mid-season rookie draft, pushing the rookie drafts into November, March and June all the more interesting.

As for Matthew Hammelmann, if he doesn’t get an AFL deal this season, which is becoming increasingly likely at age 26, he’s too good to play outside the VFL.

There may be an offer from the ladder-topping Southport Sharks, but with 18 AFL clubs looking for a match-winning rough diamond, they shouldn’t go past this raw commodity.

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